- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 26, 2009


Ginsburg back to work after hospital stay

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent surgery for cancer earlier this year, planned a quick return to work Friday after feeling ill at her office Thursday and spending the night in a Washington hospital as a precaution.

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The 76-year-old justice was released from Washington Hospital Center in the morning and said she would be at her desk by the afternoon, the court said in a statement.

Justice Ginsburg became lightheaded in her office Thursday afternoon after receiving treatment for anemia. Although she was found to be stable after an examination, the court said she was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. Justice Ginsburg underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in February, followed by a round of chemotherapy.

Anemia is a common side effect of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

The latest health episode apparently began with an iron sucrose infusion that Justice Ginsburg received to treat an iron deficiency that had been discovered in July.

About an hour later, she “developed lightheadedness and fatigue,” a court statement said. She was found to have a slightly low blood pressure, which the court said can occur after the type of treatment she received.


Biden swears in Kennedy replacement

Former Democratic Party chairman Paul G. Kirk Jr. stepped in Friday as the temporary replacement in the Senate for his longtime friend, the late Edward M. Kennedy.

Mr. Kirk said taking over the Massachusetts seat left him with mixed emotions, particularly because he was still feeling the “profound absence” of his old friend.

“It’s exhilarating and sobering at the same time,” Mr. Kirk said.

Democrats applauded his arrival - Mr. Kirk’s swearing in by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. gives Senate Democrats a filibuster-resistant, 60-vote majority at a critical juncture in the health care fight. Contentious battles also lay ahead on climate change and financial regulation.

The swearing in came just a few hours after a Massachusetts judge rejected a Republican request to delay it.

The state GOP had argued that Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick exceeded his constitutional authority by appointing Mr. Kirk before a traditional 90-day legislative waiting period had expired. State lawmakers passed a bill this week giving Mr. Patrick the power to choose an interim senator.

Mr. Kirk said he did not spend much time worrying about the GOP’s legal challenge.

The Boston attorney, 71, will serve in the interim post until Massachusetts voters pick a replacement in a Jan. 19 special election.


Former aide gets probation for theft

A former executive assistant to California Rep. Loretta Sanchez was sentenced Friday to three years’ probation for stealing office funds to get herself pizza, groceries, airline tickets and an authorized bonus.

Caroline Valdez, a 28-year-old engaged mother from Arlington, could have faced up to six months in prison for forging the Democratic congresswoman’s signature to get $6,000 in bonus salary in 2006 and using Mrs. Sanchez’s House credit card for personal expenses. But prosecutors supported Valdez’s request for probation, agreeing that she has accepted responsibility by pleading guilty and repaying what she stole.

Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. said her theft, which prosecutors say totaled about $7,000, contributed to the perception that government officials have their “hand in the public till.” The prosecutor said that is why they insisted Valdez plead guilty to a felony.

The native of Nogales, Ariz., quit her studies at Arizona State University in 2004 to pursue a political career in Washington at the age of 23. Her attorneys said she was living on her own for the first time and was struggling to pay her bills on a roughly $30,000 congressional salary with the high cost of living in Washington, student loan payments due and her irresponsible spending habits.


Air Force reopens tanker bidding

The Air Force has started its third attempt to award a $35 billion tanker contract to either Boeing Co. or Northrop Grumman Corp.

The Air Force says it will be “crystal clear” in its requirements for new tankers that refuel military planes in flight to avoid errors from previous selection processes. The service also now wants a plane that’s war-ready on Day One.

The Pentagon has failed twice to award a contract to replace its Eisenhower-era fleet of tankers. The last attempt in early 2008 was overturned on appeal and led Pentagon leaders to temporarily revoke the Air Force’s authority to award a contract.

The 2004 award to Boeing was undone by an ethics scandal that resulted in prison terms for a former company executive and a former Air Force official.


LaHood to join team at Olympics meeting

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is joining a growing list of Obama administration officials who will travel to Denmark next week to support Chicago’s Olympic bid.

The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Copenhagen on Oct. 2 to choose a host city for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago faces tough competition from Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.

Mr. LaHood is a former Illinois congressman and a native of the state. He’ll join first lady Michelle Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in Copenhagen.

The White House says a decision has not been made on whether the president will also go to Copenhagen. An advance team traveled there to make preparations in the event he does attend.


Bloomberg knocked for U2 helicopter ride

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg admitted that taking a helicopter to the U2 show might not have been the most environmentally friendly way to travel.

The billionaire - who likes to portray himself as a national environmental leader - travels frequently by helicopter and private plane, but rarely talks about it.

It only came up because his pilot had made a test run to Giants Stadium on Thursday before he was scheduled to fly the mayor there to see U2 later that evening.

Authorities say the pilot landed in the shuttle bus parking area by mistake.

Mr. Bloomberg was asked Friday whether flying by helicopter wastes a lot of energy. He said, “I suppose you could say that,” but added it would also be more efficient to swim across the Hudson River.


Utah governor voices concern on gun permits

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says he doesn’t want his state to be a national clearinghouse for concealed weapons permits.

In the fiscal year that ended in June, just over 50 percent of the state’s concealed weapons applicants were from outside Utah. Utah’s permit is considered one of the most valuable in the country because it is accepted in nearly three dozen states.

Mr. Herbert told reporters during a taping of his monthly KUED news conference that will air Friday night he’s concerned about the state’s ability to track permit holders outside of Utah.

In Utah, law enforcement officials continually check criminal records against a list of permit holders, but they don’t have the ability to do that with every other state.

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